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Faced with change, an all-female indie dev team evolves to a higher form (2013) (the-magazine.org)
223 points by hnal943 on Sept 19, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 196 comments



I’m certain that if I had children, I would be failing at my job.

I’ve hit my 30s, a period when it seems as if all of my friends suddenly have kids. That’s a priority shift completely incompatible with my goals. Startups require that you give it all or go home, routinely requiring long nights, longer weekends, and blood and toil. If you aren’t willing to put in the hours, eager replacements are standing behind you. If I fail, the women I work with will be out of their jobs.

It's this fearful attitude, lurking in the minds of bosses and employees, that is the problem facing women in the workplace who want to have children, more than anything else. (For example, I put it at the root of poor leave policies.) It's called sexism when it comes from a man, but here (from a female boss) it's clear it's just culture (American culture?).

I just had my first kid, and my wife had to go back to work at six weeks. I'm a software engineer, and she's a medical device rep in trauma. Unlike me, she can't work from home, she carries a pager, and she can't choose her work hours or reduce them. She wasn't itching to go back to work either; she loved being at home with the new baby. However, you do what you have to do. Some new moms do quit their jobs, especially if they weren't making much more than they'd save on childcare by staying at home, or if it was a crappy work environment or an unfulfilling role anyway. However, for many, it's not an option not to work, and being a software developer is actually a pretty cushy gig that I would wish on moms everywhere.

If you're afraid for yourself or someone else of having kids, go out and talk to some power moms.


As a man, I feel like if I took on kids, I wouldn't have the time to work on what I value and still do a good job of raising them. And that's with a stable, 9 to 5 job at a big company along with side projects.

If I were working at a startup, where every deadline slip significantly affects the viability of the company, I would probably feel like I didn't have time for children and my startup.

It doesn't have to be about sexism. Children are hugely expensive, and take a large chunk out of your life. Not everyone is willing or able to pay that price.


Uhm. I know at least three farthers that got kids right when their startup was less than 3 years old...

After having kids, you actually value your work time more. I have f.e. an almost strict 8 hour window. Hence, I try to make every minute count.


It may be easier for you to convince other people of that as a father than it would be if you were a mother, unfortunately. I've seen complaints before (admittedly, in other industries and academia) about fatherhood being seen as something that enhances men's ability to do their job and motherhood a thing that distracts women from theirs.


Children aren't as expensive as they say, but yes, they do take a huge chunk out of your life. It would be hard to imagine looking at a spreadsheet of the positives and negatives of breeding and deciding it was a good investment. But if you suddenly found yourself with a child, you'd find a way to take care of it and it'd end up being not so bad. Though I would not recommend having both parents keep full time jobs until free babysitting (public school) kicks in. Somebody should at least drop to part-time. The money saved on daycare nearly makes up for the lost income and you'll actually get to experience being a parent. Though you may need a smaller home and used cars. I know that's not very cool but if you are a parent you aren't going to be cool anymore anyhow so you may was well save the money.

I thought that it was known that eternal crunch time in software dev is counter-productive anyhow?


Children are only expensive in the same way any investment is: there is a cost with an expectation of higher returns. And boy, do kids have high returns and low failure rates!


Everythings fine: Do hot stuff before and/or after having children. Slow down during family-time (and with that I mean having children from 0 to lets say 10 (after that they get more independent anyway)). Who wants to crush it from their 20ies to their 60ies? Still... a ... trade (I am/was willing to make)


coming from a woman doesn't preclude it being sexism - sexism is a structural rather than individual problem, and women are just as immersed in the overall sexist culture as men are.


Right. To follow on the structural problem of sexism, I have a question: Is capitalism itself inherently sexist?


I personally think capitalism isn't inherently sexist: it can exist in a world without gender.

However, it reinforces a society's underlying sexism, racism, etc. So you often have to work against capitalism to fight other oppressions. And vice-versa.


If anything capitalism provides a safety valve against irrational sexism and racism. See eg the case of gender arbitrate in Korea, http://www.economist.com/node/17311877


good question! i'd say that at the very least capitalism as implemented today is, because it doesn't take the disproportionate impact of parenthood on women into account, and acts to exacerbate rather than to reduce that impact.


I wish that more people would join you in distinguishing "Capitalism" as an economic interface (to use the programming definition) from particular instantiations of it.


Is capitalism implemented? I think of it more like a force of nature that cannot really be controlled.


The replier in question was likely talking about the implementation of capitalism in the United States, with it's associated labor laws, taxes, regulations, etc. Compared to, say, China where it's a more natural extension of global trade creating a capitalist system. Or many European countries with better maternity leave.

Some forms of trade will always exist, but there's a fine line between trade, monetary systems, free markets, mercantile capitalism and modern (AKA industrial) capitalism. Which too many people seem to confuse as one.

And to answer your original question, of course capitalism isn't sexist, it's a broad economic system. However a capitalist system can suffer from sexist tendencies when the rules (laws, regulations, culture, society, etc.) governing it push it that way, the same any economic system can.


Ahhh. See, I think of capitalism as a global phenomenon with mercantilist states being one set of players and corporations the other. Taxes, regulations etc. are merely tools states use to wage economic war against competing states on behalf of their constituent corporations.

In this sense no nation has any real power over capitalism itself. If they enact regulations to try and reduce sexism within their borders they run the risk of reducing their constituent corporations' ability to compete on the global stage.


> Taxes, regulations etc. are merely tools states use to wage economic war against competing states on behalf of their constituent corporations.

It's not that easy. States are not coherent actors. People are watching out for themselves first, for their corporations and states etc second or third.

Somewhat more optimistic, different countries have different rules. The power of arbitrate to even force the same level of taxation seems pretty low. (And forcing the same level of sexism seems even harder.)


If I understand your question, then yes. Take for example the former US embassador to Haiti who warned against "resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces—reversing gains of the last two years." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Bertrand_Aristide#Return_t...)

Capitalist economies are carefully implemented by states; refusal to implement these artificial things puts your country at risk of terrorism by militant capitalist states. You may like Graeber's _Debt: The First 5000 Years_ for a useful perspective.


It might make more sense to ask "is humanity inherently sexist?"


Is the universe inherently nihilist?


Only if nihilism is universal.


are humans inherently sexist? Is there free will?


Free will is one of my foma. I don't actually believe it exists in a meaningful sense, but I live my life as though it does. Pretending that it exists makes my life simpler and happier.


I don't think we will understand free will until we have more of a handle on time and causality. I think free will exists, however I don't think we understand what it is and are maybe just looking at the whole thing in the wrong way. Also, on the face of it, it would seem slightly odd for a completely clockwork universe to contain beings that worry about if they have free will.


> Also, on the face of it, it would seem slightly odd for a completely clockwork universe to contain beings that worry about if they have free will.

Maybe, but to argue thew other side, we have a god-free universe filed with people who wonder if they've joined the one true church.


I wouldn't say that the universe is clockwork; quantum mechanics throws a wrench in that. However, unlike Penrose, I do not believe that quantum mechanics plays a crucial role in the human mind. I believe that the human mind could be (and probably is) clockwork.

I find that it is difficult to get shit done with that mindset though, so I live my life as though I did not believe it.


Quantum mechanics is actually way better than clockworks. If you ignore the infamous collapse of the wave function, quantum mechanics is fully linear and does NOT allow for chaos.

A classic world of colliding billiard balls is much harder to predict.


If you had free will, why would you worry about if you have it?


Cos you have the free will to do so might be as good a reason as any other.


First, you'd need to come up with a definition of free will that makes sense.


What I satisfy myself is: "People are responsible for their own actions".

That relies on some emotionally intuitive notion of "responsible" which I cannot bootstrap from what I know of the universe. That is why "free will" is foma to me. Rationally I do not believe it to exist because I cannot define it rationally (not only do I find myself unable to do it, I believe that it is not possible).


> If you're afraid for yourself or someone else of having kids, go out and talk to some power moms.

Ideally you ask the power moms and their adult children (from the future.) I bet the kids would mention other factors than their moms working during the early years.


"However, for many, it's not an option not to work", even when all the other factors mentioned are met. They want to be socially included (by doing a job).


> software developer is actually a pretty cushy gig

it can be

> that I would wish on moms everywhere.

I don't know any mom "hacking it" as their dayjob and honestly I am not sure if I'd whish them to (coding can be very demanding)


>> software developer is actually a pretty cushy gig

> it can be

If it's not, you are either doing something wrong in the current climate, or you are more ambitious by choice. Pulling six figure salaries is laughably easy, if you are willing to move.


You.. Don't think mothers are programmers? Do you live in Alaska?


I don't know any. Do you? The woman working in IT that I know are: Scrum Master, (Project/Assistant-)Manager, Team- & Department-Leads, QA and Testing.

Could just pls one of the hacking moms reply with their experience? Preferably ones that manage it with 3 or more kids? Please leave you technology stack in the comment.


My wife (currently asleep) and I have 3 children, and she's a .Net developer. I'm a Java dev. Every now and then we'll have discussions about various tech. We juggle care of the children between us.

I have a young female coworker who has just had her first child. She a Java dev, and she has the respect of her fellow devs and management.

Work life is balanced and family oriented here in the Midwest. Women are just as productive as men (and many are more so) and can serve in the same roles.


The engineering department manager where I happily work was formerly my team lead, and prior to that, a team member, and for the prior decade, a programmer in a variety of industries. She knows her shit. Off the top of my head, I believe she has worked with oo and async perl and python, C, C++, some lisp, actionscript, javascript, and was about to pick up go prior to filling the manager role. Single mother of two. Our DBA is also a mom and a former python webdev.


My wife has a successful career in federal court and I'm a CTO/Co-founder of a startup that became a medium-sized company. The impact of having a baby in our careers was insignificant.

Yes we split the responsibilities, but being really honest, if you fail in whatever you are doing because of a baby, you would fail without it either. I would even say that a baby might even make you a bit more ruthless when it comes to making money and doing things in general.

Yes, you won't have time for yourself, you will sleep less and will look miserable for a while. But I'm pretty sure raising a baby is the greatest thing I'll ever do in my life.

That said, to be a power mom you just need a power partner.


It's really great that it works out for you, but PLEASE,

> if you fail in whatever you are doing because of a baby, you would fail without it either.

For most people, it's literally like saying "If you fail in whatever you are doing because you don't get enough sleep, you would fail with enough sleep anyway."


Yes, that's kind of my point.


It's bullshit. In what world does adding additional difficulty never induce failure?


So lack of sleep won't cause more failure?


> The impact of having a baby in our careers was insignificant.

That depends entirely upon your minimum standards of parental involvement. Many would argue that the wet nurse/live-in nanny set qualify more as custodians than parents, per se.

To each his and her own, but you're being a bit myopic.

> That said, to be a power mom you just need a power partner.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic here.


We did hire a nanny, we both work 7 and 8 hours a day the rest is spent with the baby. As our baby sleep almost half of the time we aren't home, we lose just 4 or 5 hours of parenting time on weekdays.

Not sarcastic at all, What I was trying to say is that most power moms are really moms that have support of their partners.


You are talking to a guy who moved to the US from Denmark for nine months before my wife and son came over here so not casting any judgement here just a heads up.

Your baby wont continue being a baby and before you know it they are awake most of the time when you are not around and asleep when you are.

I see many parents who end up seeing their kid for maybe 1 hour a day after they reach the age of 3.


In almost every household, at least one parent works 40 hours/week. Is that person not parenting? Are you aware how many hours are in a week? That children go to school?


yes but read the parent (no pun intended)


" if you fail in whatever you are doing because of a baby, you would fail without it either. "

Try and switch those two around:

if you fail in being a father because of whatever you are doing, you have failed having a child.


It's called sexism when it comes from a man, but here (from a female boss) it's clear it's just culture (American culture?).

Nothing says women can't be sexist against women.

(Though this stuff is complex)


I'm pleasantly surprised the comments here aren't overly caustic.

And I really liked this article. As an entrepreneur who has structured my life around my family (i.e. work from home, flexible hours), I can empathize with Brianna and Amanda's points of views. The entrepreneur in me is obsessed with development and deadlines and shipping. The father in me is obsessed with spending time with my daughter. There are times when both are at odds, and while I like to say I always make the right decision, I don't. It's a tough struggle. And it's a struggle I am very conscious of, because I have competitors who don't have or want to deal with similar constraints.

But honestly, I often think these constraints make me a better entrepreneur than I used to be, because I am forced to be strict about my priorities and time. If something is a waste of time, I don't give it a second glance and move on to something else (HN notwithstanding, ahem).


> I’m certain that if I had children, I would be failing at my job.

Quality not quantity.

I work as an engineer for an NYC startup and have 3 kids. No, its not easy, but yes you need to reset your priorities. Life becomes more focused on fewer activities. Once the kids get a bit bigger its not as time intensive.

I work roughly 6:30am - 8:30am and then 10am - 5pm M-F.

I have many other friends who are engineers at fast moving companies with 2,3,4 or more kids. Its definitely doable.

If your company is asking you to work hours and hours maybe there is something wrong with their product development process or business plan.

Stop worrying and start procreating!


Are you the CEO/founder? It sounded like the author is, and I think that would make it a lot harder.


I'm glad I read this despite the link title, which is appropriately based on the article's sub-title (The title, "Choose Your Character", is even less descriptive). The article hits on some of the startup and indie gamedev work-life balance issues that affect everyone and some unique to women.


The magazine is called The Magazine. Maybe being undescriptive is part of their brand :p


I believe this team was interviewed on Debug.

http://www.imore.com/debug-44-brianna-wu-amanda-warner-and-r...


A bit OT, but I think it's refreshing to have a character like her in the tech seen, vocal and taking the spotlight in a lot of places.

At first I was thrown off by the very douchy looking attitude, it felt too much like overcompensating. And I'd hate to work in her company for so many reasons, the burning startup mindset being the main one.

But this article, as her Debug interview or the Isometricshow podcast also show other facets that are pretty fair, balanced and well thought. The podcast particulary brings hilarious and soul crushing moments alternatively, I'd recommand to anyone wanting to hear something a bit different.


I'd liken worries about staying productive while raising children to worries about being able to run a marathon.

You're probably safely certain you couldn't do it tomorrow, but that says little about your ability to do it 9 months from now and nothing about what the next person is capable off.

Ask around and you'll find supremely productive people who do both.


Wow! It's lovely to see Brianna doing well, I interviewed her back in 2012 - http://james-brooks.uk/interview-with-brianna-wu/

:)


this is not place to promote yourself. Go back to tumblr.


Done in good taste, we are OK with self promotion on HN.


There is a whole section of HN (Show HN) devoted to showing off what you've done.


Here is the game in question: http://www.revolution60.com/

The feedback in the article was spot on. The characters look decidedly anorexic.


Don't worry, they're video game characters. I'm sure they're fine! /s More seriously, this is an art style and not a body image problem. Disliking an art style is completely valid, but attributing medical conditions is a non-sequitur.


I think there were also some technical reasons for the character design, or at least the costume design. When the team was interviewed on Debug they said they had to make a choice to keep the polygon count low: Non skintight costumes? or more realistic hair? They went with hair :)


No they don't. The characters are curvy while being absolutely slim, it's a body type that in the real world does not really exist. Anorexic doesn't make those curves.


Male characters in games often look similar, though sometimes more ripped. Not too many non-NPCs with pot bellies on the male side in most games :-)

Who wants to see out of shape middle-aged game characters?

Somebody else mentioned practical concerns about rendering...


Regardless of subject matter, hot damn this person can write. I hope she's putting some of that spark into her games. That was riveting.


"I’m an ENTJ, and she’s an INTJ. Small difference; all the difference in the world."

Brevity is the soul of wit, indeed.


Though anyone who is actually planning to use Myers-Briggs tests for their HR should note that the test is entirely nonsense, on the level of "which Naruto character are you".

Most people score in the middle of each two letters, with some variation depending on what mood you're in, and it then gives an answer at the extreme end. Then the explanation for every answer just tells you how cool and special you are, so nobody complains.


How has the game and her indie studio fared today?




This article is really long and has no easily discernable point. Can someone highlight it?


It's completely hilarious that this article would bring the anti-PC haters out of their cave. There is absolutely nothing in this article about PC, it breaks the script in numerous ways:

- referring to her employees as "girls" instead of women

- her conflicts about her employee's pregnancy

- fretting over the attention to female-image issues in games, wondering if "the only way to win this game is not to have women at all"

I guess as long as a tech writer dares to use the female first person, HN will be deluged with comments from "gahh I HATE politics" know-nothings plus their more anti-social brethren. It's even curious there would be such focus on the boss being childless, this is so not the point of the article. I would probably criticize her cheezy i'm-so-rad-on-my-red-motorbike aesthetic before even thinking about gender stuff.

If there's a bright side to all the defensiveness, it suggests that the recent focus on gender is working. Much like the Anita Hill hearings brought out all sorts of ugliness out on the way to sensible anti-harassment policies, we're witnessing the next evolution.


When I first started reading this comment I thought you were using the phrase "anti-PC haters" to mean console gamers.


The motorbike part was where I stopped reading.


It's silly how much goes into correctness in games nowadays. You'd have to make an Asteroids clone just not to offend anybody (except sentient asteroids...).

Just make your game fun, challenging or whatever your goal is and have fun making it. And of course you can put in interesting looking characters, it's called art :)

Also, to the politics topic: Oh I hate that so much, it only takes one person to mess up whole teams and the worst thing is if it's one of your superiors. It's horrible when you can't do anything but change your job (been there, done that).

edit: to the downvoters, please read the whole thing and my response down there, if you still disagree, no hard feelings :)

edit 2: From the article, one of the points I was referring to

"“Why are they all white?” sneered a liberal friend of mine before launching into a 20-minute screed about how offended he was by the naked shower scene in Heavy Rain."


I downvoted you because you misunderstood the point of that section of the article. It's not about 'offending' people, it's about consistently and invisibly leaving people out.

It's easy for us white dudes (as I assume you are, based on your post) to say "games should just be whatever!" because we implicitly have the privilege of identifying with the inevitable white dude main character. The few times the character isn't a white dude washes right off of us because we are absolutely used to a character that conforms to us.

Others don't have that. This isn't 'politics' it's about being inclusive and realizing that it's actually trivially easy to do so in most cases.

I've been making games professionally for over 15 years now. The progress we are making is fantastic because the main problem with games is that game designers are lazy. When we go with grimdark white dude, it is lazy. When game developers are forced to not be lazy, everybody wins. Because at the very least, you cannot argue with the fact that lazy design is always going to be inferior to non-lazy design.


> It's easy for us white dudes (as I assume you are, based on your post)

That's a racist stereotype.

> the privilege of identifying with the inevitable white dude main character

You're telling me that people relate to some ex-military dude that goes around shooting people who shoot at them? (COD) You're also telling me that we relate to some girl jumping on top of buildings and running around? (Mirrors edge) The same with a ripped Spartan with chains embedded in his arms? (God of War) [To make things worse... his skin has been dyed many times over]

You've got to be loony if you believe that the race of the character prevents someone from relating. From my perspective its a fantasy world you're entering. Just because I'm playing Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't mean that I can't relate just due to it's Hedgehoggian race.


> That's a racist stereotype

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw_mRaIHb-M


Yo, if you're going to reply with a youtube link, would you mind explaining what it's about so we know what we're clicking on?


It's a debunking of 'reverse racism'.


Nobody said 'reverse racism'.

The person you replied to was clearly talking about racial stereotyping. The objection was to the stereotyping.

A video that debunks reverse racism is not an appropriate reply to what is (at worst) effectively a typo. s/ist/ial/ and done.


Guessing that someone arguing from an obvious position of privilege is a white guy is only a racist stereotype if you believe reverse racism exists.


...you're ignoring what I said. Ignore the word racism. It's objectively a racial stereotype to call someone's race based on the way they're talking.

Arguments about the term 'racism' don't matter. He meant 'racial'.


The person is a racist, its not worth arguing with one. They feel that their stance is the only valid one.


I downvoted you because you make very bad points:

Being inclusive: Yeah, it's extremely inclusive, The most famous videogame in the world is about a Italian plumber, the most sold videogame in history is about a redneck, a black man and a Russian man. The most famous puzzle game is about a women in a experiment. They want the prime time on more AAA games? So you think giving them the main role in GTA would make them happy? I don't think so, they would scream "Women are not violent, this is sexism!"

I'm "brown" by all US definitions of it and I couldn't care less for "more brown people in videogames".

> The progress we are making is fantastic

There have been no progress, getting closed to your biased ideal of games is not progress until you can proof otherwise.


> It's not about 'offending' people, it's about consistently and invisibly leaving people out.

The trouble is, this isn't something you can solve on an individual level as someone developing a single game - you have to leave some people out, there's simply not space - and yet, as the article alludes to, there's this pressure to meet everyone's expectations around inclusion.

(Even when the people being included don't actually exist. There was this big, screwed up gaming media hoo-hah a while ago about how a game and its developers were racist because they hadn't include any black people. It was set in a time and a region when they didn't exist - and from what I recall, the developers actually did the research on this, they didn't just assume everyone was white in their setting.)


Okay, I understood this part of the article 'you can't do everyone justice'. As for the 'white dude' part: lucky guess ;-) But I personally can't identify with the flat stereotypes in games, it just doesn't work for me. I also will never say "games should be just whatever", they are just so much more to me. I love the stories, seeing worlds that never have been and never will be. That's what games are for me about.

To the politics: My part was about workplace politics, but you are right about the game politics, it is good to take the extra mile and reach out.


Well this statement: "Just make your game fun, challenging or whatever your goal is and have fun making it." Sounds very much like "don't worry about inclusiveness, games should be whatever you want them to be!"

Which is true but if you want your games to be exclusionary then don't be surprised when people call you on it.


I'm not disagreeing with you, but I do think it's interesting that we don't hold many other forms of media and art to this standard. Movies are about the only ones I can see where people do bring it up, but even that is a "fringe" concern, for the most part you'll never see a review of a movie bring up diversity and inclusion, and yet it's quickly become a fixture in modern games reviewing (see: Polygon).

I wonder if it's because gaming is a world you can escape to, immerse yourself in more than movies? But then, I find books to be far more engrossing, and you'll never see this brought up for them. It's interesting, that's for sure.


It is same in every medium of art, but video games are what the Interneterati talk about the most, since they are computer lovers.


It is really hard to say what you mean when you only have words to describe what you feel.

I hope you can take this as an apology, I don't wan't to hurt any feelings with what I do or say, it is just too easy to loose the passion for what you do when all you do is trying to meet expectations. I learned that the hard way.


Well, I'd like you to know that most professional game developers feel very strongly on these topics, and they feel that inclusiveness and diversity are good things.

In fact, what leads most of us to losing the passion is making yet another grimdark white dude game. So this push towards inclusiveness and diversity is actually revitalizing for most of us.


Yeah nothing will make games fun again like making yet another brown shooter with women of color (TM) as avatars. Revitalized indeed.


You are right, the only fun games have grimdark bald white guys with stubble.


>It's easy for us white dudes (as I assume you are, based on your post) to say "games should just be whatever!" because we implicitly have the privilege of identifying with the inevitable white dude main character.

I am neither white nor dude and it is easy for me to say it too. Stop trying to hide behind me to justify your politics.


Can you explain to what extend it is "silly" to make an effort to avoid sexism or racism?


It's silly to worry about it in the context of a fictional medium. Arguments have been made that, say, for instance, the human trafficking ring in Watch Dogs (recent video game) shouldn't have ever existed because it's overtly sexist, despite the fact that you break it up at the end of the mission arc. (To which I say: That's what human trafficking is. Sexist? Ya think?! People are being sold into slavery and you focus on sexism?)

Such arguments ring as hollow as the railing against violence in video games. Saying what kind of artwork people should and shouldn't make transcends all *isms into straight-up repressiveness.


> It's silly to worry about it in the context of a fictional medium.

I respectfully disagree. I think it's extremely important to have discussions about various -isms in fiction. Fiction is a huge part of how we understand and view the world around us, and if our fiction has distorted worldviews, then we should know about it.

What I took away from that anecdote instead, is that tact is a thing and so is knowing what to say when, and that maybe charged opinions on tangential issues should be left to some occasion other than when your friend is trying to show you something that she worked really hard on.


Though there's a huge difference between "knowing about it" and railing against it.

My takeaway is that the Anita Sarkeesians (the person who made the argument against Watch Dogs that I mentioned) of the world want the same thing the Jack Thompsons of the world do - suppression (not recognition, suppression) of that which makes them uncomfortable, using a very weak appeal to the greater good in an attempt to legitimize it.

And on a more meta level, I have yet to see so much as one criticism of any particular video game for $isms that was simultaneously:

* Completely factual

* Well researched

* Not misleading

* Not judgmental as to the game's target audience

If such a thing were to exist, I think it would be a great boon to both the cause of social justice warriors and video gaming as a maturing art form. Unfortunately, everyone that's gone down this path, that I'm aware of, seems to abandon all of the above and instead create shrill, judgmental, self-congratulatory pieces that cause people with any ounce of rationality to sigh and move on.


> if our fiction has distorted worldviews, then we should know about it.

You keep using that word, "fiction". I do not think it means what you think it means.


A lot has been written about how, for example, the best Science Fiction reflects something from the real world or makes us think about real world issues. It's, in my opinion, what turns good SF into truly great SF. There are even awards specifically made for SF that touches these real world issues (see the James Tiptree, Jr. Award [1], for example. And if you've never read fiction by Tiptree (R.I.P.), I strongly recommend her work!)

So fiction often has meaning related to the real world. In my opinion it is entirely appropriate to worry when groups of people are generally misrepresented in fiction.

Fiction that is completely divorced from reality is uninteresting to me and to a great deal many people.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tiptree,_Jr._Award


If we're talking serious /art/, I think the distinction is really, is this potentially offensive thing making a point that betters the perceived meaning of the game, or is it there because of lazy writing and tropes? In all art forms, it's the former that's generally granted high status.


Would you demand the same of other art forms? We don't tell artists what to paint. If something is offensive it's deemed 'powerful' for the emotions it's capable of invoking. If we hate it we move on and don't look at that painting. We all have the right to an opinion about art but we are not entitled to forcing our opinions on those who create it.


Other art forms have been subject to feminist and other criticism for a long time.

Only recently has attention been turned to video games, as the genre is so new. The reaction from a minority in the video games community seems to view this criticism as an extraordinary attack, even some kind of corruption or conspiracy if you listen to some people on reddit.

These recent controversies (#GamerGate included) look pretty transparent from people with no stakes in the game. A lot of really violent backlash against an industry that is growing up.

If a book is published, it is allowed for journalists or other writers to say that this book is abhorrent for x, y, and z. It is also allowed for them to criticize and chastise the author for writing such an abhorrent book. This is not the same as censorship.

When a large part of society condemns something for whatever reason, or if a certain segment wishes to use their arguments to try convince enough people that something should be condemned, this is a natural, largely unpredictable, and unrelenting process that happens all the time to reflect shifting social values and morals. It's folly to fight that, and the trick is predicting where it will go. In my opinion, that is how companies and institutions survive.

A few years ago it might have been in (any random abstract) company's best interest to fire a gay employee. Regardless of the views of the decision maker at that company, for the sake of PR, this is the way it goes. These days, that decision goes the other way, particularly on the national scale.

The game studios are subject to these kinds of effects too, and that is what what will hurt the status quo of games in the long run (although there are arguments to be made that the desired status quo is already long gone, I dunno, it's been a while since I was attached to the games industry).


I agree: "we are not entitled to forcing our opinions on those who create it."

However, in the context of extensive advertising and unavoidable public discussion, we are having the opinions of those creators foisted on us.

It's not a matter of "choosing not to play" when the overwhelming prevalence (contrasted with the mere existence) of sexist or racist games shapes how you're perceived by everyone around you. It already an uphill battle to be recognized as an individual without the constant stream of objectifying media.

There's far more money and political power backing those invested in exploiting and perpetuating stereotypes. They can afford to defend themselves.


There is no right to not be offended or to not be exposed to media you disagree with.

I am offended by the likes of Anita Sarkeesian who is plastered all over games media. I believe she is wrong and her critiques are self serving, lacking in depth, and ignore the overall context by simply cherry picking things that seem outrageous to her audience. But her right to speech trumps my desire to not hear it Despite the triggering nature of her articles. To me it sounds like this is about controlling thought and language to silence those you disagree with or perceived threats on your worldview.

If you really can't bear to even hear people talking about a game you disagree with then put on a pair of headphones or grow a thicker skin.

Beyond that, the claims of sexism/racism/misogyny in games is silly when you also include the male tropes (when's the last time you've seen realistic portrayals of male physique in a videogame that wasn't negative). Also If you really believe women aren't thought of as individuals in the western world you are living in a oppression-fantasy.


There are many creators out there who want to remain completely uncritical. They are happy they made something, and they don't need to be told that they're doing it wrong, because their goals were internal and self-set from the beginning. But the whole premise of the artist even trying to speak to an audience is to decide what is important to say, what is necessary and what is unnecessary - both what the audience will like, and what is good for them to like. And so artists who are aiming not just to say anything, but to say the "best" things possible, eventually gravitate towards a critical lens.

Critique is a discussion that is semi-private: It takes place between the critic and the artist, and not the audience as a whole. Audience members have the final decision in that they can walk away from the resulting discourse, but this doesn't mean that they need to intervene and announce which things should or should not be open for critique. When the audience does intervene directly in criticism, it generally amounts to bullying of either the critic or the artist, or sometimes both; it's not productive.

Where this dialogue becomes messy is when the space of discussion has not been agreed upon: Should this discussion aim for criticism or not? If "no," simply say you're thinking that. But if you're presenting an argument to avoid criticism as a means of shutting down a criticism, you're being a bully.


> Would you demand the same of other art forms?

Other popular, socially influential, commercial media are subject to pretty similar pressures -- particularly media that are consumed heavily by youth; less popular/pervasive/commercial media are subject to criticism on similar grounds, but generally not pressure that something needs to be done to correct the problems in the medium (likely in part because even the groups that see individual works as problematic don't see the less-pervasive medium involved as having a substantial problematic influence on society.)


Avoiding the topic of sexism and racism is worse than not talking about it. So yeah, avoiding it is silly: it helps nobody. What I was referring to, is the part of the article where everyone had to complain about something regarding the vision of the developers.

My point was that it looks like it is a futile effort to comply with what everyone expects and that it is more important to concentrate being happy creating something.


There is literally nothing wrong with sexism or racism being present in games.

It's just another American moralistic panic thing, like nudity or sex in games. Generally perpetrated by people unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

Murdering hordes of people in brutal ways: perfectly fine.

A nipple: THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Non-Politically Correct aspects: SOMEONE THINK OF...THE MINORITIES?


What exactly is "non-politcally correct"? In what ways do discrimination and dehumanization of certain peoples involve politics?

I hear you and agree that we should be allowed to explore fantasies. However, when one's sexist fantasies are similar to one's reality, intervention is reasonable. Concrete example: cat-calling.


How is telling someone how to make their game any different than telling a woman how to dress?


I don't see how this is relevant as I did not suggest game makers should make different games. Rather I was simply commenting on the observation that there are social issues regarding sex and gender in our world, and that many video games showcase them (usually unintentionally).


Can you name a single form of media that doesn't showcase sex and gender in our world? Also Why is this a bad thing?


But to what extent? Are all game worlds supposed to represent an ideal utopia? E.g. is the antagonist being sexist supporting sexism or is it a commentary on sexism? What about 'historical' games? Do we eliminate references to the Holocaust in WW2-era games because it might offend someone?

I think that this is where the arguments get fuzzy. Everyone has a different idea of where the line is drawn.


It's silly, because there's a difference between portraying something and endorsing it.

Yet it seems there is a shocking number of people out there today who cannot make that difference.


Let's cater to every group of people then. Let's make games black and white so we don't offend colorblind people. No, let's remove graphics at all, because that excludes blind people. And no sound, that is exclusionary towards the deaf.

You see, anybody can be offended by anything. You offend me by your dumb attempts to control art, for instance. So why don't you stop doing it?


I fear that this comment spurred the wrong discussion. Sexism and racism addressed in video games is not the problem -- 12 Years a Slave, She's the Man, and 10 Things I Hate About You are not the problem.

The problem is that games like Red Dead Redemption, Hitman, and Grand Theft Auto systematically reward sexist and racist behavior (tying a woman to train tracks, brutalizing prostitutes, etc.). Many refute the idea that video games can affect a player's long-term behavior, and as far as I know both sides of that argument are difficult to study and prove.

I do hypothesize, however, that these video games reinforce or at least mimic the very real disregard and dehumanization of females in society. It's not so much video games that are the collective problem, it's people.

EDIT: I am realizing this comment is being interpreted as if I were suggesting a ban on certain qualities of video games. I am not. I am only postulating some sort of parallel between video games and real life.


Can you please identify exactly what part of Hitman "rewards sexist and racist" behavior? I assume you've played the games?

You can kill women in Hitman, but this is not in itself sexist. You can kill men too, with a penalty if they're not an armed guard. There's no difference between killing a homeless man or woman that just happens to be in the way of your plans.

It seems to me that this line of criticism is actually that the game is too violent in general. It's just that sexism is used as the tip of the spear, because we as a society are significantly more likely to be outraged - because we are sexist - by violence against innocent women in games than violence against innocent men. Against the ultra powerful player character, both are just as defenseless.

If any gender is dehumanized by Hitman, it would surely be men - more than 95% of who you kill in an average play through are male guards that are simply there to be a gameplay element, like ghosts in Pac Man. You violently kill them, dump their bodies and forget it seconds later. The female opponents are highly powerful assassins with names and unique faces.

There is plenty of low hanging fruit for criticizing Hitman. It's quite a disturbing game (and it happens to be one of my favorites). I'm all for deconstructing and analyzing the games we play, but doing it in an intellectually lazy way does nobody any favors.

(I can't speak to the other games, as I haven't played them)


So, here's something funny, I thought to myself "is there anybody that isn't familiar with the woman tied to the railroad tracks cliche so they wouldn't get the reference? It's gotta be like a hundred years old by now." So I Googled "woman tied to railroad tracks." The first link that I got was an article by a silent film enthusiast about "silent film myths." I click on it and he references an Anita Sarkeesian video!

With a cautious disclaimer that she's usually reliable, he points out that she brings up this cliche as being a common silent film trope and she includes a short clip from a 1913 silent film using it. But here's the problem: the gag wasn't common in silent films at all, that's the myth the rest of the article debunks; and in the clip she was using, by 1913 it was already a gag scenario only suitable for making fun of, not seriously presented, yet this is how she describes it. In the span of two minutes I accidentally found somebody in a completely different hobby who called out a video of Sarkeesian making a incorrect claim she couldn't possibly have actually researched (that the trope was common in silent films,) and taking a video clip out of context either because she didn't really watch it, or on purpose because it made her point better.

I know that the trope can be presented ironically and still be part of a cultural pattern of objectifying women. That is not my point. It is just about accidentally finding the same sort of thing that gamers say she does about specific games in a completely different medium she has commented on. Noticing these things, if they keep happening, could be considered "honest criticism" of her videos that some people insist doesn't exist.


> The problem is that games like Red Dead Redemption, Hitman, and Grand Theft Auto systematically reward sexist and racist behavior (tying a woman to train tracks, brutalizing prostitutes, etc.).

In a sense, yes. For example, Grand Theft Auto rewards players for brutalizing prostitutes because it rewards players for brutalizing NPCs full stop. It turns out that including female characters in your game and applying the same generic mechanics to them as male charcters is a really good way of producing a misogynistic game. That's... odd, to say the least.

(Also, it doesn't even matter if the game encourages violence against them. Just having female NPCs that can be the receipient of violence is enough, even if it's penalized by the game mechanics. If you don't want to be accused of encouraging misogyny it's probably safest and easiest just not to include any women in your game.)


These games reward violent behaviour against all kinds of people, all of the GTA games I played involved killing many more men than women and probably more whites than blacks.


These games have a right to exist as free speech regardless of what they portray or how the player is rewarded. Banning media or forcing them to conform to your political beliefs because you don't agree with it is nothing short of fascism.

I don't see people out there arguing to rewrite Bukowski for being sexist.


No-one is suggesting these games are banned. Free speech goes both ways, the games can be made, I can critise them.


I tripped up over this many times when I first discovered online dating profiles of girls who called themselves 'feminists'-Now I put that in quotes because it was before I became exposed to online-radical-feminists, or the extreme feminist types.

Anyway, I'd see the profiles of these 'feminists' and would list among their favorite writers 'I LOVE Bukowski'.

Every single time I'd cock my head to the side, utterly confused. I still do.

To each her own I guess...k


> The problem is that games like Red Dead Redemption, Hitman, and Grand Theft Auto systematically reward sexist and racist behavior (tying a woman to train tracks, brutalizing prostitutes, etc.).

A game is a work of fiction.FICTION.it doesnt mean developpers fantasize on rape or that it will turn player into sex offenders.When did COD turn players into mass murderers ? never. When did GTA turn players into car jackers ? or thugs ? I remember new york city being pretty violent in the early 80's.GTA didnt exist... Game X or Y didnt make the nazi kill jews... or made Ted Bundy be what he was ...

Reminds me Resident Evil 5 c"ontroversy" when "people" were outraged because players were killing blacks ... What the hell ? the game is set up in Africa, for christ sake...there will be some black people there ... RE5 didnt make the US south racist or lynch negros ...did it ?

> Many refute the idea that video games can affect a player's long-term behavior, and as far as I know both sides of that argument are difficult to study and prove.

Because people CAN tell the difference between reality and fiction.For those who cant , videogames are not to blame.They have issues at first place.

So yes,let's continue to have violence against women,objectified women in video games,just like men are objectified and raped and killed in videogames.

If only women were brutalized,you may have had a point,but that's not the case,at all.

that's why all this social justice warfare against videogames is silly.These are just game and do not turn people into monsters,trolls,racists,rapists,killers or whatever.

I want game artists to be able to express themself without fear of finger pointing by people totally unrelated to gaming.

If players dont like it,then they will not buy it.Let the market work...

So enough with all this already.A few people made a quick buck out of social justice warfare,good for them, but let us not fall for all that crap.


>When did GTA turn players into car jackers ?

I explicitly addressed and rejected this conversation in the post you responded to. No one other than Jack Thompson and a few crazed parents are suggesting your hyperbole.

>A few people made a quick buck out of social justice warfare

I am constantly upset by this notion. There are very real social problems in this world, regardless of who you think profits off of them. This is insanely dismissive.


Violence is a very real social problem. I'd even say that Thompson's heart was arguably in the right place.

Now, why are Thompson's arguments widely dismissed as invalid even though they have the same logical construction as the SJWs arguments, and they receive much more credibility?

Thompson's argument boiled down to its base is that violence in games perpetuates a culture that has real negative impacts on the real world.

The average SJW's argument, take Thompson's postulate, replace "violence" with any random "-ism", and it's literally the same argument with the same striking lack of anything other than emotion to back it up.


I'd argue that the difference is that we tend to see violence, especially the extreme sort found in most games, as "obviously wrong." Performing the action in a game isn't likely to cause someone to change their behaviors about something that has been ingrained in them as obviously wrong. But sexism, racism, etc. and general exclusionary tendencies are much more subtle and less obvious; I'm not saying that games do necessarily influence people on these topics, but there is a definite qualitative difference between how people feel about violence and how people feel about sexism, etc., to the point that the arguments are not parallel. The evidence against Thompson's argument doesn't preclude cultural media from influencing us on other vectors.


The average "SJW's" argument, perhaps. Academia is all up in this problem, though[1].

[1] http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=video+games+sexism


> "Let the market work."

The market includes feedback mechanisms. Game criticism is one of said feedback mechanisms. If people are criticising a game, that is an element of the market at work.


Is it worse that those games reward sexist and/or racist behavior or extremely violent behavior?


Good question; I don't know. There's definitely a calm conversation worth being had about violence in video games.

In general: I would predict that if every parent strictly followed ESRB guidelines there wouldn't need to be a conversation.


I agree with your second sentence an unbelievable amount. As the parent of a child, with friends who play violent, sexist, racist, terribly entertaining popular games, I wish every person who had spawn would follow ESRB guides.

To your first - is there really a conversation about violence in video games that is substantive? It always boils down to, "I don't like it," "I do like it". I think it's just too hard to control for all the variables in someone's life to actually see if violent video games have an impact at all.


>To your first - is there really a conversation about violence in video games that is substantive?

I effectively agree. I suppose the extent of my conversation is my second sentence, and only then because of anecdotal evidence.

Still, I'm sure there are psychology and sociology students who would love to step forward with their studies. It's not often you encounter a bunch of those sorts talking about this issue on the internet, though. Especially on Hacker News.


>The problem is that games like Red Dead Redemption, Hitman, and Grand Theft Auto systematically reward sexist and racist behavior (tying a woman to train tracks, brutalizing prostitutes, etc.).

This sort of dishonesty is precisely what causes the backlash. No, those games do nothing of the sort.


Sure, I can explain that. I'll even quote from the article, because I think it's true:

"Everyone brings their political agenda to the table when it comes to female characters in videogames; everyone complains if the women don’t match their particular vision. I start to wonder if the only way to win this game is not to have women at all."

You are acting like there is one standard of racism and sexism that all reasonable people agree to. As soon as you do anything risky, you find out how untrue that is. And as the quote alludes to, you could hurt the representation of (in that case) women by playing it too safe.

"Political correctness" is when the effort taken to avoid sexism and racism goes too far. And no, nobody agrees on that line either.


I don't think anyone said making an effort to avoid sexism or racism is silly.


I read the article, came back to your comment, and really have no idea what your comment has to do with the article. You'd probably have fewer downvotes if you explained what part of the article you think you're replying to. (I didn't downvote, btw.)


Politics are ruining videogames.

It was one of the last medium where people just didnt care,but now game journalists or even game companies give a tribune to people that are not gamers,that dont care about gaming and with whom it's all about social justice warfare , i.e. manifactured outrage, to divide gamers on things that are hardly related to gaming and make the gaming community look like trolls.

Everybody knows who i'm talking about.

I dont want video games to be like TV,or cinema. I want it to be basically interactive cartoons for children/young adults/adults,like it always has been. Not every game is suited for every audience,but adult games shouldnt be PC because fear of being a victim of social justice warriors.

And if social justice warriors want politicaly correct games,let them write games and see how successfull they are.


And you've gotten to the point with most art. It's not a human right to access art and entertainment. Therefore, art and entertainment really don't owe us anything in terms of considering our feelings or opinions. All they owe us is to be interesting and entertaining enough to make us want to spend money or time on them.

BUT, because we live in a very privileged society (any first world country at least), we have nothing better to worry about than whether or not the new Half Life has a strong woman character in it, or whether or not it portrays minorities in a positive light.

Somewhere along the way people got it in their heads that they can dictate what is art and what is entertainment to other people. This has been a struggle since the dawn of time, I believe. The only problem is that now we have a medium for communication that allows these shallow, backward censors to find each other and be much, much louder than they should be.

I love Leisure Suit Larry simply because it is hilariously sexist. I also treat the women in my life and women I meet as equals in all aspects of my personal and professional life. It's as if, in some cases, there can be a disconnect between what I do as entertainment and who I am as a person. It's also as if there exist certain items for certain audiences. I'll not let my 10 year old play leisure suit larry; then again, I'm not going to bother with candy crush nonsense, he can have it.

People need to learn that not everything can make them happy, and that the world isn't sunshine and puppies. Sorry for the lengthy (vaguely off-topic) response, but this really strikes a nerve. Fun fact - my graduate studies are in Critical Pedagogy in Educational Leadership, emphasis in Social Justice. The current incarnation of "Social Justice" is so far from what individuals like bell hooks, Paulo Freire, Maxine Greene and Henry Giroux had in mind that it's fucking ridiculous and absolutely infuriating.


>> The current incarnation of "Social Justice" is so far from what individuals like bell hooks, Paulo Freire, Maxine Greene and Henry Giroux had in mind that it's fucking ridiculous and absolutely infuriating.

http://books.google.ca/books/about/Reel_to_Real.html?id=hRtG...

>> "Although it may not be the goal of filmmaker, most of us learn something when we watch movies. They make us think. They make us feel. Occasionally they have the power to transform lives. In Reel to Real, Bell Hooks talks back to films she has watched as a way to engage the pedagogy of cinema - how film teaches its audience. Bell Hooks comes to film not as a film critic but as a cultural critic, fascinated by the issues movies raise - the way cinema depicts race, sex, and class. Reel to Real brings together Hooks's classic essays (on Paris is Burning or Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have it) with her newer work on such films as Girl 6, Pulp Fiction, Crooklyn, and Waiting to Exhale, and her thoughts on the world of independent cinema. Her conversations with filmmakers Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Arthur Jaffa are linked with critical essays to show how cinema can function " - preface to bell hooks' "Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies"

You're full of it. Real Social Justice philosophers have always paid heavy attention to media, because in capitalism, our media basically assimilates, swallows up, and instrumentalizes (in the service of consumption) anything else we may want to describe as our "culture" and "tradition".


"subversively, even as it maintains the status quo." You left that off for some reason. Have you read that book? Good essays, from there you should read Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Pedagogy of Hope (spoiler, I would tell you to read those regardless of what you quoted. . . )

No, I'm not full of it, you just misread my statement; apparently I didn't make it clear enough and I do genuinely apologize for that.

These individuals did, in fact, study what culture means and what it teaches those around us; I never said they didn't. It's called Critical Pedagogy for a reason. Said simply, you are critically thinking about lessons - formal, informal, wherever, whenever. As I said, read Freire - he's easily the best of the group and the most accessible.

What these individuals didn't do was attempt to directly point individual art and entertainment pieces in one direction - that was my original claim.

There is a difference between informing others about culture's lessons and the hidden (for lack of a better word) meaning behind art while asking people to be aware of the lessons they are learning and the lessons they are teaching and the rabid, hateful nonsense that 'social justice warriors' are spouting about specific changes that need to be made to specific games/websites/books, etc.

Do you not see the difference?


I do see the difference, but so does Anita Sarkeesian and every other cultural critic that people accuse of being a "fauxtivist". It's in the preface of her videos, and outlined very clearly when she discusses the Bechdel Test.

>> What these individuals didn't do was attempt to directly point individual art and entertainment pieces in one direction - that was my original claim.

This is blatantly straw-manning what people are doing criticizing videogames and TV today.


"and outlined very clearly when she discusses the Bechdel Test."

And that's why there needs to be a constant line drawn between cultural critique and critical thought and the all too common armchair activism and "outrage," which manifests solely as circlejerks and censorship with no thought, that we see today.

I don't see how that's a strawman argument, either. Certain "SJW's" are actively, or at least appear to be actively, censoring websites like reddit and 4chan. That's a thing that is currently happening, and was in direct response to the parent of my first comment in this chain. If I had said "what these individuals didn't do was attempt to directly point individual art and entertainment pieces in one direction, like all social justice activists today"

That's a strawman, big time.

But, instead, what i said was that the particular group of implied censors in the (grand?)parent comment was attempting to point individual art and entertainment pieces in a direction they believed to be right, and that social justice leaders, historically, believed the fight was much larger than that, and they (to a person) believed that education was the best way to accomplish these ends.

I have a terrible time explaining myself to humans.


Hey, Loughla, one of your posts is showing up as dead. Might want to check to see if someone hellbanned you.


I have no idea how to check that.

Edit: Okay, apparently it's just that comment? What made that part of the discussion so offensive?


Nothing about it seemed offensive to me. I guess you figured out how to check it, but if not, just go to a different computer with a different IP address and none of your cookies and see which of your comments don't show up. But this comment isn't showing up as dead, so it seems you aren't hellbanned.


You say we have nothing better to worry about than certain portrayals, but try and imagine being constantly portrayed as:

(a) a likely gang member,

(b) someone who can be called a slut and spanked because of the length of their skirt,

(c) someone who can shot dead because someone of a different skin color felt slightly threatened.

or (d) someone who can be killed for using the wrong bathroom.

Where does "nothing better to do" fit into those prevalent portrayals?


Imagine being constantly portrayed as someone who can be beaten or killed for any perceived injustice or poorly chosen word in public just because of his/her perceived sexuality. That's a real example from my life, but still doesn't give me the right to dictate what someone else should enjoy in art or entertainment.

Your argument doesn't really rebut my original statement that arts and entertainment aren't a human right and you don't get to tell me what I can enjoy or even have access to; nor can I tell someone else what they can and can't enjoy as art and entertainment.

Your 'social justice' is misguided. You can't impact art and entertainment until you impact culture. One drives the other; history proves that statement correct. You want to have an impact on these video games? Get into education or youth development of some kind and start with them.


I was addressing how we are made to feel about each other, and the very real, material consequences of those feelings. To limit the discussion to just "enjoyment" of media ignores all the other ramifications.

Art and entertainment are intrinsic parts of culture, and the medium by which it is perpetuated. To say that changing them won't change culture is to say that neither propaganda or advertising have any effect.


They change culture but not the way you think it does; killing people in videogames don't make real people violent, Japan has some of the most gruesome films/games ever created, and despite that the murder rate in Japan is one of the lowest.

You can't have your cake and eat it too, meaning: Are games part of capitalist entertainment or is interactive social teaching? Pretending to be both just ruins it for everyone, and that's easy to see and foresee, that's why people like Anita Sarkeesian badmouths games but makes no effort to create one herself.


To take this away from political/ethical concerns for a moment, I just listened to an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast where the hosts (which include full-time writers) advocated having non-writers in their critique groups. They make the point that people who don't create a given work and still -- by virtue of their extensive engagement of the media -- can have suggest objective improvements to the writing (e.g. tweaking a scene to better relate the author's intended message).

In short, you don't have to create a given media in order to be "worthy" of critiquing it, any more than any of us here on Hacker News have to create a country before we can be critical of politics.


In no part I talked about being "worthy" or not, or any remotely similar; it is about how practical is to create the videogames she envisions, games about utopias are no fun. And their demands are blurry as well, do they want the main role in the most sold videogame? So they want to be the mass murder in the center of GTA? No, they also want to be related to positive traits.


Good news! No one is ever going to stop a game from being made.


I'm not so sure. Several of the most popular game platforms (Xbox, PlayStation, iOS) are effectively closed, with gatekeepers who decide which games are allowed. And those gatekeepers don't allow certain types of games on those platforms. Of course it's still possible to create whatever games you want on the remaining free platforms, but removing some of the most popular and lucrative options could make it economically challenging.


Platforms have denied games and game content for well over a decade now and games seem to be doing just fine thanks.

I'm unsure which popular and lucrative options are being removed though. Could you provide examples of what you think will magically disappear?


Decade? Nintendo is over 30 years old.


Truly, games are doomed.


The standard AA/AAA mass market cross platform videogame is "art" to approximately the same extent as "airport novels". Interchangeable cover art, interchangeable characters, interchangeable plots. All good ways to pass a few hours, but rarely deserving of in-depth study.

Sorry John Grisham, but you know it's true.


People who don't know jack shit about video games shouldn't talk about who or what is ruining them.

Video games have been intensely political for AGES. Crammed full of warmongering nationalism, sexism, racism, moralizing and speculative fiction on various topics, including social issues.

Don't believe me? Off the top of my head, here's a list of recent AAA titles that all have significant political & social themes (usually related to warfare, but not always):

    Call of Duty (all of them)
    Spec Ops: The Line
    Shadow Complex
    Battlefield (all of them)
    Mass Effect (all of them)
    Metal Gear (all of them - hoo boy are all these games crammed with politics and moralizing and social topics)
    Splinter Cell (all of them after the original; in particular Blacklist and Double Agent)
    Syndicate
    Deus Ex (all of them)
    Hitman: Absolution and Hitman: Blood Money
    Assassin's Creed (all of them)
    Max Payne 3
    Basically all the GTA games
    Remember Me
    Red Dead Redemption
    Nier
If I expand the filter to indie games there are hundreds more. Most importantly, these games are not a monolith: The worldviews and opinions displayed in them vary wildly, some of them are judgemental and others aren't. Some of them strictly ground their political/social topics inside fantasy worlds, while others ground them in worlds that very closely resemble the real world. Some use broken, flawed characters as a glimpse into real issues while other games position 'just' and noble characters in opposition to the forces of people who are politically or socially Evil.


> [people that are not gamers] divide gamers on things that are hardly related to gaming and make the gaming community look like trolls.

I don't understand this. Who are these self-proclaimed "gamers"? Most people who play videogames don't let this define their identity. They are not "gamers"; they play videogames. Same with movies: I'm not a "moviegoer"; I watch and enjoy movies. I'm not a "book-reader"; I simply enjoy reading. I feel entitled to have strong opinions on games, movies and books.

Are you saying journalists and game companies are "giving tribune" to people who never play or think about videogames? Or did you instead merely meant "people who don't describe themselves as gamers"?

Because I couldn't care less about gamers.


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Does a person's gender and skin color invalidate their opinion?


When they are arguing from a position of privilege that they should be prioritized against wishes of disenfranchised groups?

Frankly, yes. Yes it does.


If their argument is invalid, its invalid independent of their sex or race.

It seems to me that you disagree (with perhaps legitimate reasons) with the opinions, but rather than addressing that, use race or sex as an excuse to dismiss the holder of opinion (but selectively -- only when it disagrees with the "correct" opinion.)


But if you have not fully lived the other person's life experience to the totality that they have, how can you be so certain of their privilege based on 2 data points?


Because they are the biggest hypocrites of all. They hide behind a faux-academic legitimacy of radical feminism and sociology. They redefine racism/sexism to be power+privilege giving themselves a free pass to be bigots and attempt to silence dissenting opinions.

If you are a white man who disagrees with them you're automatically wrong and you don't have the right to have an opinion. If you're not white or you are a woman and you disagree with them it's called "internalized misogyny".

Basically these people have built up fallacious dogma to protect their tenuously fragile and hypocritical beliefs to justify their own hatred so they can be guilt free.


Privilege does not mean you have had a problem free life. It means you haven't had to deal with certain things that other people have to deal with.

If you are a white dude, you've never had a bank officer refuse you a loan for bullshit reasons because of his own racism. You've never had your resume skipped from a stack because the person looking at it didn't like your foreign sounding name, or because they were worried you might get pregnant. You've never had coworkers contribute to a climate of harassment because "it's just a joke" about rape, sexism, race, etc.

I grew up really poor. Like, collecting bottles and exchanging for food poor with my single mother and sister. I had to work my ass off to get where I am today, but I did it by being able to get loans, being able to get apartments, by connections I made because of other white dudes.

It took me a long time to realize that privilege isn't "you have everything"; privilege is "you don't have drawbacks that other people have to deal with daily no matter their situation."


I'm well aware what privilege is.

I've been hit, spit on, bullied, tormented, passed over, told I wasn't a "real man", and more for being several std devs below the average height (fun fact, we make less money for this) due to a "heigh-ist" society.

So when I see people saying, "I'm not a bigot, but your orientation+race+gender means you don't know how bad some people have it" I'm going to call out their bullshit. They haven't lived my life, they don't know what I have and have not gone through. To say that one's unchangeable traits precludes their experiences and opinions is undeniably bigoted. Don't promote that, listen to what people have to say and understand the context from which it was said.


And yet in this case, it's not being bigoted to suggest that white guys complaining that people want inclusiveness is a bad thing is an invalid opinion. It would be like tall people complaining that a Brown's opened up. "Why are they catering to all those short men? The real clothes market is in average/tall people!"

You can call it bullshit if you want, I call it an argument made from a position of privilege.

But once again, I don't think you really understand privilege. Privilege does not mean that you never have to deal with discrimination. It simply means that there are kinds of discrimination you will never have to deal with.

White people have inherent privilege over black in north america. Men have inherent privilege over women in work settings. Tall people have privilege over short people when it comes to shopping for clothes. But one privilege absolutely does not imply all privilege.


> it's not being bigoted to suggest that white guys complaining that people want inclusiveness is a bad thing is an invalid opinion.

Quote me where I said that it was anything to due with preventing inclusiveness. I'll be waiting.

> I don't think you really understand privilege.

And then you proceed to say that I had a valid example of privilege (discriminatory lower pay).

> But one privilege absolutely does not imply all privilege.

I never said that, quote me where I said that. I'll be waiting.


> If you are a white dude, you've never had a bank officer refuse you a loan for bullshit reasons because of his own racism.

Non-white people exist, can be in positions of economic power, and can make decisions biased against whites in such positions. If you are white in the US, you are far less likely to have had a bank officer refuse you a loan with some false pretext but really motivated by his own racism -- but being white does not mean that that did not happen to you.

> You've never had your resume skipped from a stack because the person looking at it didn't like your foreign sounding name

Er, being a "white dude" doesn't mean you don't have a foreign sounding name (White does not imply Anglo-American name, whether given name or family name), in much the same way that being a non-white dude doesn't mean you don't have an Anglo-American sounding name.

> or because they were worried you might get pregnant.

White dudes can have given names that are more commonly female, so certainly could have a resume bounced from a stack for that reason.

> You've never had coworkers contribute to a climate of harassment because "it's just a joke" about rape, sexism, race, etc.

Actually, its quite possible to experience that as a white dude, especially in a predominantly non-white or non-male workplace -- especially given a prevalent attitude that whites and males are somehow magically immune to that sort of hostility by virtue of the supposed "privilege" whites and males have in most workplaces by virtue of the on average superior positions of power.

There are real and valid reasons for discussing privilege of different groups in broad aggregate social analysis, and even in recognizing that, for networking and other reasons, that privilege can result in an advantage to members of that group compared to otherwise similarly situated members of other groups.

OTOH, its also very easy to overstate what that "privilege" really means on an individual level, and to let it become a source of blindness towards (or an outright source of license for) discriminatory abuse of power positions against those who happen to be in groups that are, on average, better situated with regard to power relations, even when the subject individual is not advantageously positioned in the relevant power relationship to the instance of discriminatory abuse.

The concept of "Privilege" is, IOW, an important part of understanding social context and how it affects individual experience, but when it makes you see people only as stereotyped members of groups and blinds you to the real individual circumstances, well, then its just another source of racism/sexism/etc.


This is not a constructive comment.


but neither is any comment that includes the phrase "social justice warrior"


SJW's are a self-proclaimed group (much like "conservative" or "liberal" or "foodie") with some general, widely held beliefs within that group.

Pretty hard to objectively discuss a group when you go out of your way to avoid describing them.


Virtually every use of "social justice warrior" or "SJW" I've ever encountered has been using it as a label to stick on people who do not self-identify that way, usually as a personal attack, and I can find no evidence of the existence of such a "self-proclaimed" group; doing a search, the term appears to be entirely a hostile epithet ascribed to others, not a self-proclaimed group.


I've met several people who self-identified as "social justice warriors" or "really into social justice". However I have only seen the initialism "SJW" used by people who are critical of the idea/people.


They created the term (I believe on tumblr) and their universal insufferability has caused it to be associated negatively.


Even if there is a group on tumblr or some other community that initiated the term as a self-proclaimed identity, and even if that group still exists and uses the identity, very few of the uses of the term in practice (none that I can find, including those that purport to present definitions of the term) use it to refer to that group particularly.

So even if it started as such as self-proclaimed identity, the term isn't generally used in reference to that self-proclaimed identity.


Not personally identifying with an identity that describes you due to negative connotations does not make it any less true.

There are plenty of assholes in the world who don't consider themselves to be assholes.


> objectively

Your discussions of SJWs are not objective. Do you really believe that you are objective when discussing racism and sexism?


I always found it silly that the main character can murder hundreds of people in the most gruesome way, but any hint of racism/sexism is enough to enrage everyone.

Is racism/sexism really that much worse from torture and murder that it's ok to use the later for storytelling, but the former always brings an outcry from the community?


> Is racism/sexism really that much worse from torture and murder that it's ok to use the later for storytelling, but the former always brings an outcry from the community?

The issue is, well, the racism/sexism is usually not important to the story. The story could usually be told just as easily without the isms.


The problem is not the portrayal of racism/sexism/murder in the game, the problem is that the game is racist/sexist in the way it was constructed.

Kind of like how minstrel shows are racist, in contrast to films like "12 Years A Slave".


Best example for this is Tomb Raider: The start of it was so awesome, a breath of fresh air showing that games can be w/o killing hundreds of people. Unfortunately ~2 hours in the game that got lost.

Oh but the people complained about the bad story-telling then, go figure...


Or a high fantasy game that has non-white male characters. Dragons and magic and throwing out all of science are OK, but you heaven help you if you aren't (what some think of as) historially accurate.


Do you have any actual examples of this? I have never played a fantasy game where all the characters were white males and have never heard any complaints about that. Shit, I don't think I have played a high fantasy game where all the characters were human.


I'm not sure what he's talking about, but there were a lot of complaints about the movie Frozen (set in Denmark).

They seemed to be based on:

- people thinking the movie starred the Sámi people, an indigenous people who live in Norway, which is not Denmark.

- people thinking the Sámi people have dark skin, because they're called "indigenous people" on Wikipedia, and the Inuit are also called "indigenous people" on Wikipedia.

- a popular tumblr blog called medievalpoc which regularly claims that people from European history (Goethe, Martin Luther, etc.) were actually "black people" and their representation in art is a cover-up.

Although personally I don't think animation needs to be historically accurate! Or starring people instead of, say, talking dogs.


a popular tumblr blog called medievalpoc which regularly claims that people from European history (Goethe, Martin Luther, etc.) were actually "black people" and their representation in art is a cover-up.

The blog medievalpoc does not claim that. Merely it claims that there have always been people in europe who would be classed as "people of colour" by modern USA's standards.



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Are you sure you're on the right forum? The kind of hateful comments your every comment appears to be are not needed here.


By "aspirational" I suppose she meant "inspirational"?

(As for the article itself, I only made it through a few paragraphs. I assume it was going to be about sexism and reproductive discrimination in the workplace, which I think is a serious problem. Part of this problem is solved in Sweden, where a couple can split maternity / paternity leave any way they like.)




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